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Business News/ News / Karnataka temple tax row: Siddaramaiah counters 'fake news' after BJP backlash — All you need to know
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Karnataka temple tax row: Siddaramaiah counters 'fake news' after BJP backlash — All you need to know

BJP and Congress leaders engaged in a war of words over the 'Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Bill 2024' that was recently passed by the state assembly. What is this Bill? What BJP and CM Siddaramaiah said? Read here.

Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah speaks during the state Legislative Assembly session, in Bengaluru on Tuesday. (ANI)Premium
Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah speaks during the state Legislative Assembly session, in Bengaluru on Tuesday. (ANI)

A row erupted after the Karnataka Assembly passed the 'Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Bill 2024' on Wednesday. Under the new rule, temples earning above 1 crore will pay 10 percent of the net income, while temples with income between 10 lakh and 1 crore will pay 5 percent to the government.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders slammed the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah-led state government over the new bill. Karnataka BJP president Vijayendra Yediyurappa alleged that the government passed the bill to replenish its depleted coffers.

"Corrupt, inept #LootSarkaar with its penchant for anti Hindu ideology in the guise of secularism, has cast its evil eyes on the Temple revenues. Through the Hindu Religious Endowments amendment act, it is trying to siphon off donations as well as offerings from Hindu temples and religious institutions in order to fill its empty coffers," Yediyurappa said on X.

He question as to "why only Hindu temples are targeted for revenue, leaving out other religions..." He also took a dig at the Congress government and said, "Instead of grabbing the devotees' money, government can install "Donation Boxes" so that the concerned citizens can help this penniless govt boost its revenue as a Gesture of Goodwill."

Union Minister and BJP leader Rajeev Chandrasekhar also criticised the Congress government in Karnataka, calling its move to pass the Bill a "new low" for the state's ruling party. "Every time you think Rahul's Congress cannot fall any lower, along comes and example of them falling even lower," Chandrasekhar was quoted by PTI as saying.

Siddaramaiah clarifies new rule

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the “allegations" regarding the state government's amendments to the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment Bill "appear to be misrepresented for political gain".

ALSO READ: Karnataka: CM Siddaramaiah announces 3.71 lakh crore budget | Key highlights

Siddaramaiah shared a graphic on X that claimed to bust the "BJP's fake news". It said Hindu temples have contributed to a fund for religious activities. He said there has always been a mandate to create a "common pool" since the enactment of the Act in 1997.

He added that before the recent amendment, the contributions to the fund came from:

(i) 10 percent of the net income of institutions whose gross annual income exceeds 10 lakh

(ii) 5 percent of the net income of institutions whose gross annual income exceeds 5 lakh but does not exceed 10 lakh

(iii) Grants received from the state government

However, after the amendment, the contributions to the fund will come from

(i) 10 percent of the net income of institutions whose gross annual income exceeds 1 crore

(ii) 5 percent of the net income of institutions whose gross annual income exceeds 10 lakh but does not exceed 1 crore

(iii) Grants received from the state government.

 

Graphic shared by Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah
View Full Image
Graphic shared by Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah (Siddaramaiah /X)

"The recent amendment was made solely to enhance the amount of the common pool," Siddaramaiah said, adding that the common pool is administered "solely for religious purposes connected with the Hindu religion". He further clarified, "It has not been utilized for any other purposes or for the benefit of followers of other religions."

ALSO READ: CM Siddaramaiah proposes reversal of Hijab ban in Karnataka, BJP calls it ‘dirty politics’

"These provisions underscore a commitment to using temple funds for the welfare and upliftment of the Hindu community, directly contradicting claims of misallocation of funds for non-Hindu purposes or the imposition of unfair taxes," he said.

The Karnataka Chief Minister also shared the "statement of objects and reasons behind the 'Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act 1997".

Earlier, Congress leader and Karnataka government minister Ramalinga Reddy questioned the BJP of consistently engaging in religious politics. He accused the BJP of pursuing political gains by labeling the Congress as anti-Hindu. Reddy asserted that the Congress has consistently protected temples and Hindu interests over the years.

"Sri Vijayendra Yediyurappa, It is clear that BJP, always pursue political gains by claiming that Congress is anti-Hindu. However, we, the Congress, consider ourselves the true proponents of Hinduism because, over the years, Congress governments have consistently safeguarded temples and Hindu interests," he said.

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Published: 22 Feb 2024, 07:45 PM IST
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